Like over-the-counter painkillers, marijuana has anti-inflammatory properties that can help alleviate pain after a night of overindulgence. Unlike Advil, however, pot doesn’t carry the risk of damaging your stomach lining and it is significantly more effective at treating pain, as numerous studies have demonstrated.
A side note: regularly consuming too much alcohol can cause neurodegeneration and cognitive impairment, contributing to a cycle of alcoholism, according to researchers at the University of Kentucky. A 2013 study showed that cannibidinoal (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of marijuana, can reduce alcohol-induced neurodegeneration by almost 50 percent.
Though studies that have looked at the effect of marijuana on nausea have focused on cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy, experts say there is no reason that the results would be limited to one form of nausea over another.
Again, it is no cure. Smoking pot won’t make the excess ethanol in your bloodstream disappear. Still, there’s good reason to believe that it can help get you through the day. It’s certainly better than the “hair of the dog” approach, which involves drinking more alcohol and simply numbing yourself to the pain of a hangover. Let’s be clear: alcohol is toxic and marijuana is not.
To be sure, moderating your alcohol consumption is the best preventative measure you can take to avoid a nasty hangover. But if you do find yourself struggling to get out of bad after a night on the town, anecdotal and scientific evidence suggests that marijuana is one of your best options for the quick, safe, and effective treatment of hangover symptoms.
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Headaches aside, having a hangover also usually involves feeling nauseous. If it’s a particularly bad case, you’ll have trouble keeping waterвЂ”let alone foodвЂ”in your stomach. Again, marijuana to the rescue: scientists have found that the substance is highly effective at treating nausea. Even the U.S. National Cancer Institute, a federal agency, has acknowledged as much.
One study published in the journal Nature Neuroscience found that “THC fits into receptors in the brain’s olfactory bulb, significantly increasing the animals’ ability to smell food and leading them to eat more of it,” Smithsonian Magazine reported.
Here’s how marijuana affects alcohol hangovers.
When it comes time to spark up (or however you get your weed), remember that you’re trying to treat your specific symptoms—choose your strain and method of delivery wisely. Burns noted that THC and CBD both seem to help with pain relief, while CBD helps more with anxiety. Indica strains have more CBD, so take that into account.
Beyond street-level anecdotes, though, what does scientific research say about smoking dope to treat a hangover? Does it actually work? Is it any better than the myriad other dubious hangover cures out there?
There’s some evidence it works best as a headache treatment when you get the combination of THC and CBD, rather than using them separately. Without more study, though, researchers can’t be certain under what circumstances it’s helpful, including for hangovers. “We don’t really know the underlying mechanisms by which marijuana might relieve pain,” Hutchison said. “It’s better to know the real underlying mechanism.”
Many of these problems can be addressed with drinking water and eating food, even when you feel sick. But Hutchison noted that there are three areas in which weed might be particularly helpful. There’s evidence that smoking cannabis can quell nausea and alleviate anxiety. As many smokers can attest, those effects may help you better cope with the day after a night of hard drinking—-it’s just that research hasn’t yet caught up with the folk remedies. Most of what we know about weed and hangovers comes from anecdotal evidence. “It’s true of so many questions around marijuana,” said Hutchison.
They couldn’t smoke in the dorm, so they went to his roommate’s car. “Almost immediately I wasn’t focused on feeling bad, just being high, and it felt like my headache and upset stomach were gone,” he says. It also gave him an appetite while recovering. Even today he turns to the green after a night of over-drinking.
However cannabis can help with your hangover, it’s important to note that it’s not curing anything so much as letting you live with the consequences of too much drinking while your body recovers. “Marijuana treats the symptoms,” said Elaine M. Burns, naturopathic medical doctor. She’s long advised patients and doctors about using weed therapeutically. The best ways to deal with a hangover, she said, are “A, avoid it begin with, then B, treat the symptoms.”
There’s also a healthy debate over whether it’s better to smoke or take an edible, and theories about the right choice between sativa and indica, depending on your symptoms. Some warned of the dreaded crossfade that happens when you combine weed and alcohol (“If you are still drunk, don’t smoke”), while others wondered why anyone would drink at all when they could be smoking weed instead.
“There’s actually not a lot of study on this,” said Kent Hutchison, a professor of psychology and neuroscience at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He’s studied substance use and cannabis for years, including work on the National Academy of Sciences committee that produced a comprehensive study on the effects of cannabis.
Hutchison pointed to another potentially helpful effect of weed: pain relief. Right now, there’s anecdotal evidence to suggest it can help with headache disorders, as well, but not enough clinical study to prove it, according to a 2017 review article in Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.
Cannabis can quell nausea, alleviate anxiety, and dull pain—so we looked at the evidence for it as a hangover cure.